Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Joel Knox, a thirteen-year-old entering puberty. He is bright, beautiful, and in need of love and acceptance from someone who “belongs” to him. He is a boy in search of someone to be “with.” He goes eagerly to Skully’s Landing when his father, out of the blue, invites him there to live. Because he is so bright and insightful, his misjudgment of Ellen is puzzling. When she does not respond to the letter he mailed her saying that he hates the Landing, he thinks she has rejected him, but he had found, scattered on the ground, the coins he put in the mailbox, so it seems odd that he thought she got the letter. Likewise, at the end of the novel, when he learns that a woman and a deaf girl from New Orleans have been at the Landing, it does not cross his mind to think it could have been Ellen and Louise, although he immediately says he has a deaf cousin in New Orleans. Perhaps Truman Capote wanted Joel blind in his spot of greatest need; perhaps Joel deliberately blinds himself rather than ponder, too much, that he had decided he and Randolph were “the same.”
Cousin Randolph, who seems to be a patient, laissez-faire person. He is openly homosexual and entices Joel into a relationship, but he never forces himself on anyone. He generally gives everyone what they ask from him—even his cousin, Amy, though he enjoys tormenting her before acquiescing. The servants, Zoo and Papadaddy, do as they please, with no interference from Randolph. Zoo leaves “forever” after Papadaddy dies, but she comes back after she is raped and brutalized. Although she is different, he treats her the same. Even with Joel, he does not push. Except at the novel’s end, when Ellen is coming, he gives Joel complete freedom of movement, asking nothing from him. When Joel is ill and being nursed by...
(The entire section is 757 words.)
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